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Mary Adkins

(1926-2009) Following God from Kentucky to Africa
"We are never sorry when we obey God"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2009

Ever since Mary Adkins was very young, she desired to follow God’s leading. This calling led her from her hometown of Anderson, Indiana, to care for orphans in the mountains of Kentucky and finally to serve as a missionary in Kenya and Tanzania.

Mary was born on September 30, 1926, and her parents became believers while she was a child and raised her in the church. She accepted Christ as her Savior at the age of nine, and as she matured into adulthood, she knew that her duty as a child of God was to tell others about Him, and she dedicated her life to His service.

 Although she had intended to go directly to the Chicago Evangelistic Institute (later called Vennard College) after high school, God led her to serve at an orphanage in Kentucky where she cared for the children and taught Bible lessons. She later wrote of this experience, “We are never sorry when we obey God.” A year later, she went to CEI and majored in theology. There she met Richard Adkins, a WGM missionary kid from Kenya, and they were married in 1949.

After Richard completed his seminary training and spent a few years in the pastorate, the couple became missionaries to Kenya with World Gospel Mission. In 1955, Richard and Mary arrived in the country along with their two children, Doug and Judi. Their third child, Michael, would arrive just a few years later.

Mary oversaw the production of Christian literature, served as a secretary, managed the bookstore, assisted Richard in church ministries and radio outreach, and served as a language instructor to new missionaries learning the Kipsigis language. She also helped create a library cataloging system for the Kenya Highlands Bible College—with no former knowledge about libraries and with just one textbook about cataloging at her side!

More than anything else, Mary’s passion was producing and distributing Christian literature. She wanted to get good Christian reading materials into the hands of new believers to help them grow in their faith. In 1961, they opened a bookstore in Kericho. In a 1961 Call to Prayer article, Mary wrote about the bookstore: “Customers have included missionaries, Europeans, Asians, as well as Africans. Many tracts have been given out. A large number of people have received answers to their questions about spiritual matters, and in the first three months, five seekers have found victory in the prayer room.”

In 1988, just as Richard and Mary were beginning to consider retirement, they were asked to move to Tanzania to help open a new WGM field in that country. They worked with the local church and served in field leadership until they retired in 1994. After retirement, they moved to Avon Park, Florida, but remained active in supporting ministries in Africa.

Mary passed away on February 23, 2009. Her husband, Richard, along with their three children and their spouses were at her side. World Gospel Mission joins with Mary’s friends and family all over the world who rejoice that she is now celebrating with her Lord and Savior. John 15:8 (NKJV) testifies of her life: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

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